Oliver Dowden – lay down smoke and show a clean pair of heels

There was an article in the Guardian on the 12th June 2021,  “Oliver Dowden – The paymaster who is calling the tune in the culture wars”. The article highlighted what a wonderful smokescreen culture wars are for the inadequacy of the Secretary of State for Culture and the DCMS. They serve to reinforce the findings of the Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS Sectors: First Report by the select committee for Digital Culture Media and Sport. MPs said the response of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been hampered by the Department’s fundamental misunderstanding across Government of the needs, structures and vital social contribution of sectors such as the creative industries.

In the recent crisis, countless jazz promoters and musicians encountered problems of funding and access to funds as they fell between the cracks. BREXIT for touring musicians is a catastrophe of Olympian proportions; musicians are being ripped off by streaming companies and need a fair deal, This situation is exacerbated by ten years of funding cuts which have dramatically affected the arts and now the Government is planning to impose a disastrous 50% funding cut to arts subjects including music at Higher Education level in England.

In 2019 arts and culture contributed £10.47 billion to the UK economy of which the UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion – all this is in danger of being trashed.

It is crucially important that with a new post-Covid and Brexit landscape a national arts plan is developed that ensures that the arts and culture play a part in healing the nation and drives the export of arts and culture. To make this happen the arts requires a reformation in arts funding with an organisation that can deliver a rolling, realistic and coherent national plan for the arts, entertainment and culture where under-represented musics and art forms finally get a place in the sun.